Guns for Hire: An Exploration of Booter Services

Contributed by Sam Dixon
Until recently, DDoS (Distributed-Denial-of-Service) attacks were an event that had to be planned and worked for to be executed. An individual or group wishing to execute such an attack would at least have to use the resources available to them or infect machines to create a botnet to perform the DDoS. Infecting other machines takes work that individuals may not know how to do, and if the attack is being performed by a group, this effort must be coordinated. In consideration of all this, pulling off a DDoS attack may be out of reach for most people. This is a positive thing because, in general, there is not a good reason for any group to be willfully and knowingly denying legitimate traffic to different websites and services. Unfortunately, booter services exist, and present the possibility to be able to bridge the gap between people with malicious intent who want to engage in a DDoS attack and people who have the resources, knowledge, and skills to be able to orchestrate a successfully DDoS attack. It may not be quite as easy as ordering a pizza online, but if a person knows what they are looking for, it is not far off. With these services being so easily and readily available, it stands to reason to expect that these types of attacks will only grow in popularity and magnitude. It is the aim of this analysis to explore the origin and mechanisms of booter services. Following that, this exploratory paper will speculate whether or not there is any possibility that booter services are used for legitimate or non-criminal purposes. Lastly, this analysis will discuss actions being taken to mitigate attacks performed by booter services.
 
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